Raleigh, N.C. — Miss after miss, they kept coming for No. 23 North Carolina State on Saturday.
Bricked jumpers off the front rim.
Drives that rolled around the cylinder and dropped away.
Shots that didn’t hit anything at all.
They never stopped, either, not until the Wolfpack had managed a stunningly low point total that stood as the worst for any Atlantic Coast Conference school in the shot-clock era. N.C. State lost 47-24 to No. 12 Virginia Tech, a throwback output to the long-ago days when teams would hold the ball and turn games into stand-around slowdowns.
Only this came from one of the ACC’s best offenses with a shot clock constantly rolling.
“It was crazy,” Wolfpack coach Kevin Keatts said. “It was almost like there was something on the rim.”
When it was over, N.C. State had put up the lowest point total by a ranked team in more than three decades of the shot-clock era, according to ESPN Stats & Info. It also flirted with the all-time low total – 20 points by St. Louis against George Washington in 2008 – since the shot clock began in the 1985-86 season, ESPN Stats & Info said.
The ACC said it surpassed the previous low mark for a league team set by Georgia Tech in a 57-28 loss to Virginia in January 2015. And N.C. State’s 16.7-percent shooting (9 of 54) also now stands as the lowest percentage in the history of a league founded in 1953.
“You never want to be a part of a loss like that,” graduate transfer Wyatt Walker said. “You never want to be on that side of it.”
It was hard to explain, too. N.C. State (16-6, 4-5) was coming off a 66-65 overtime home loss to No. 3 Virginia, rallying from 14 down in the second half to force overtime. And with its fast pace and pressure defense, the Wolfpack entered this game ranked third in the ACC in scoring (84.4 points), third in shooting percentage (.484) and fourth in 3-point percentage (.378).
But things started poorly and only got worse.
Perhaps there was a sign that things were off when the school tried to honor the presence of program great David Thompson at PNC Arena by showing his image on the scoreboard in the first half– but instead zeroed in on 1980s player Ernie Myers (who started motioning to the camera that it was a mistake).
The Wolfpack made just 2 of 28 3-pointers. It was N.C. State’s lowest total since it beat Duke 12-10 in the 1968 ACC Tournament – back then, underdog teams often used stalls, hoping to keep close.
Sophomore guard Braxton Beverly typified the Wolfpack’s afternoon. A week to the day after hitting a buzzer-beating, 3-pointer to beat Clemson on this court, he shot 0 for 12, missing nine times from behind the arc.
N.C. State made 1 of 17 shots to start this one and missed first 11 3-pointers, and trailed just 20-14 at halftime with the Hokies (18-3, 7-2) playing a slower pace with point guard Justin Robinson sidelined by an injury.
“At halftime I told them to relax and let’s laugh a little bit, because I said, it’s 20-14,” Keatts said.
Yet as Keatts preached that things-can’t-get-worse approach, they somehow did. After making 6 of 31 field goals in the first half (.194), N.C. State made just 3 of 23 (.130) after halftime.
“I don’t think even in high school I’ve seen anything like it,” Virginia Tech’s Ty Outlaw said. “This is a different level, of course. I just thought it was an ugly game. We weren’t exactly firing on all cylinders on offense, either.”
Virginia Tech shot just 36 percent and made 7 of 21 from behind the arc. But the Hokies didn’t need much production against the cold-cold-cold-shooting Wolfpack.
“I was thinking the whole time: ‘OK, we’re not shooting it well but our defense is staying there and we’re going to start making shots eventually,’” Walker said, “and it never happened for us tonight. It’s just, it’s sad.”
No. 1 Tennesse 93, Texas A&M 76: Grant Williams scored 22 points and Tennessee set a school record with its 16th straight win.
The Volunteers (20-1, 8-0 Southeastern Conference) surpassed the 15-game streak they had from February 1915 to January 1917 and are off to their best start in conference play since also going 8-0 in 1981-82.
Tennessee was clinging to a two-point lead midway through the second half before a 5-0 run, capped by a 3-pointer from Jordan Bowden, made it 70-63. Those five points were the start of a 10-3 spurt, with a 3 from Lamonte Turner that extended the lead to 75-66 with 8 1/2 minutes to go. Williams added a dunk in that stretch and had a big defensive play with a block on TJ Starks.
Wendell Mitchell finished with 18 points for Texas A&M (8-12, 1-7), which lost for the fifth time in the last six games.
No. 2 Duke 91, St. John's 61: Freshman phenom Zion Williamson scored 29 points, Tre Jones flirted with a triple-double and Duke routed St. John’s.
RJ Barrett added 15 points and 14 rebounds while Jones had 13 points, seven rebounds and seven assists while also playing lockdown defense on Shamorie Ponds. The Blue Devils (19-2) shot 56 percent while winning their fifth straight.
Ponds, the hero of last year’s upset win over Duke and a 20.9-point scorer, had all 11 of his in the second half. LJ Figueroa had 14 points and Marvin Clark II added 12 for the Red Storm (16-6), who fell behind by 20 before they hit a shot in the second half while losing their third in four games.
(At) No. 3 Virginia 56, Miami 46: De’Andre Hunter scored 14 points, Mamadi Diakite had 11 points and three blocks, and Virginia locked down on defense again.
Kyle Guy added 10 points on just 4-for-15 shooting for the Cavaliers (20-1, 8-1 Atlantic Coast Conference), who played without point guard and third-leading scorer Ty Jerome because of a sore back.
Chris Lykes scored 16 points to lead the Hurricanes (9-12, 1-8), who lost their fifth in a row. Zach Johnson and Sam Waardenburg each added 10, but Miami became the ninth team held below 50 points by the Cavaliers this season. The Hurricanes entered averaging 74.4 points per game.
(At) No. 4 Gonzaga 85, San Diego 69: Rui Hachimura scored 32 points and Gonzaga beat San Diego to go undefeated through the first half of the West Coast Conference season.
Zach Norvell Jr. added 21 points for Gonzaga (21-2, 8-0), which won its 12th consecutive game since a pair of December losses knocked it from the No. 1 spot in The AP Top 25.
Isaiah Pineiro tied a career high with 30 points and added 11 rebounds for San Diego (15-8, 4-4), one of the surprise teams in the league this season. Isaiah Wright added 16 points.
No. 7 Kentucky 65, (at) Florida 54: Tyler Herro scored 19 points, including a dagger 3-pointer with about three minutes to play, and Kentucky rallied from an 11-point deficit to beat Florida.
PJ Washington added 15 points and 12 rebounds for the Wildcats (18-3, 7-1 Southeastern Conference), who won their eighth consecutive game and ended a two-game skid against the Gators (12-9, 4-4).
Kentucky used a 14-0 run during a 5-minute span late in the second half to turn the game around. Herro came up big in the spurt, scoring five points and finding Keldon Johnson in the corner for a 3. Herro’s 3 made it 55-48. Florida fans soon started heading for the exits.
(At) No. 8 Nevada 93, Boise State 73: Caleb Martin scored 30 points and twin brother Cody Martin added a season-high 21 as Nevada cruised past Boise State.
Nevada (21-1, 8-1 Mountain West) struggled the previous time it played the Broncos, winning 72-71 on Cody Martin’s 3-pointer in the final seconds at Boise on Jan. 15. This time, the Wolf Pack broke away shortly before halftime and wound up shooting 55.6 percent. Nevada went on a 9-2 run and led 41-30 at the break.
Alex Hobbs led Boise State (10-12, 5-4) with 21 points. Justinian Jessup and Derrick Alston each scored 19.
No. 9 North Carolina 79, (at) No. 15 Louisville 69: Luke Maye had 20 points and 11 rebounds, Cameron Johnson finished with 19 points and 10 rebounds, and North Carolina avenged a blowout loss against Louisville.
The victory came three weeks after the Tar Heels (17-4, 7-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) were pounded by 21 points by Louisville (16-6, 7-2), their worst defeat at home under coach Roy Williams.
The Tar Heels returned the favor in the rematch and ended Louisville’s six-game winning streak. They set the tone with a 22-4 first-half run over 8:34. It put them up 34-19 and gave them a lead they never lost against one of the league’s co-leaders.
(At) No. 11 Kansas 79, No. 16 Texas Tech 63: Dedric Lawson had 25 points and 10 rebounds, Devon Dotson added 20 points and Kansas took out the frustration of a lousy week on Texas Tech.
Lagerald Vick added 13 points and Ochai Agbaji had 10 for the Jayhawks (17-5, 6-3 Big 12), who came into the showdown of Big 12 title contenders having lost two straight and three of four.
The Jayhawks roared to a 20-point halftime lead against Texas Tech (17-5, 5-4), the league’s dominant defensive team, then weathered a shaky start to the second half before pulling away again.
Arkansas 90, (at) No. 19 LSU 89: Mason Jones hit a driving floater off the glass with 22 seconds left and Arkansas handed LSU its first conference loss this season and first home loss in more than a year.
Daniel Gafford scored 23 points and Isaiah Joe added 18 points for the Razorbacks (13-8, 4-4 SEC), who squandered an 18-point, second-half lead before pulling out the win and halting LSU’s streaks of 18 straight victories at home and 10 overall.
Naz Reid scored 19 and Javonte Smart 18 for LSU (17-4, 7-1), which was trying to start 8-0 in the league for the first time since 1981 – and very nearly did.
(At) No. 20 Iowa State 65, Texas 60: Talen Horton-Tucker scored 15 points, Marial Shayok had 12 and Iowa State held off Texas for its fifth win in six games.
Nick Weiler-Babb had 11 points and seven rebounds for the Cyclones (17-5, 6-3 Big 12), who hit their last four field goals to avoid the upset.
Kerwin Roach finished with 19 points and Matt Coleman had 13 points and five assists for Texas (12-10, 4-5), which committed 13 turnovers and shot just 26 percent on 3s.
No. 22 Mississippi State 81, (at) Mississippi 75: Quinndary Weatherspoon scored 27 points, freshman Reggie Perry added a career-high 21 and Mississippi State earned a road win over rival Mississippi.
Mississippi State (16-5, 4-4 SEC) has won four of its last six games. The Bulldogs got some payback after they lost to Ole Miss 81-77 at home last month.
Ole Miss (14-7, 4-4) led for a big portion of the second half before Mississippi State used a 9-0 run to take a 66-60 lead with eight minutes left. The Rebels pulled even at 73 on Breein Tyree’s 3-pointer, but never could regain the lead.
(At) No. 25 Florida State 59, Georgia Tech 49: Mfiondu Kabengele and Terance Mann each scored 12 points, and Florida State won its third straight game after the Yellow Jackets failed to score in the last 4:14.
This was the lowest point total by a Florida State (16-5, 4-4 Atlantic Coast Conference) opponent this season and it ties the lowest output by Georgia Tech (11-11, 3-6) in a game this season.
Kabengele has scored in double figures in 14 of the Seminoles’ 21 games, all as a reserve. Trent Forrest added nine points and six rebounds for the Seminoles (16-5, 4-4 Atlantic Coast Conference).